Well, they used to say, "It's an ill wind that blows nobody good (although I suspect that the person who came up with that had never been caught downwind of our outhouse). Although he is not exactly one to look for the silver lining, the Ol' Bloviator is going to risk his credentials as what Spiro T. Agnew once called a "nattering nabob of negativism" by suggesting that there may actually be an upside in this global warming business--at least if you are a thoroughly unreconstructed Yankee-hater. The O.B. does not fall in that category, of course, for he finds Yankees at least as amusing as they can be irritating. Take the great bed-bug panic currently paralyzing New York City. For those of you who wouldn't know one if it bit you on the hind parts--and believe me, it would like nothing better--here is the critter in question, better known in the scientific community as bedbuggitus biteyourbutticus:
Although these tiny but tenacious bastards were once largely confined to more tropical zones, in recent months, a flood of news reports, official investigations, and maybe a few "had-a-few-beers-too-many" revelations have conveyed the impression that the Big Apple is literally crawling with blood-thirsty little boogers who regard a human's rear end much as you and I see a coconut cream pie. They also delight in biting where you can't scratch and consider every nook and crevice of your body, bed linens, sofa, luggage, and carpet the equivalent of a four-star resort, from which they can be next to impossible to evict. A reported infestation in the Bronx D.A.'s office should be evidence enough that these little bastards will go anywhere, even a building packed with lawyers. If you need any further evidence that bed bugs are some bad rammer jammers, here it is, courtesy of my friend Al:
WARNING! EXPLICIT SEXUAL CONTENT
All bedbugs mate by traumatic insemination. Because the female has no genital opening, the male pierces her abdomen with his hypodermic genitalia and ejaculates into the body cavity. Especially desperate males sometimes mistake other males for females and fatally wound the latter in the abdomen.
This is why supposedly unflappable New Yorkers are now not only flapping, but scratching and whining ad nauseam. The "ain't-gots," people who don't have bedbugs, are deathly afraid they'll get 'em and want nothing to do even with someone who knows someone who heard about someone who had 'em. The poor "had 'ems," meanwhile, are proverbial pariahs; no one aware of their infestation experiences will rent to them or visit their homes, much less allow their kids to come over for play dates. Promising personal relationships have been abandoned. Let's just say that known "had 'ems" who have jobs get plenty of space around the copier or water cooler at work, and unless their skill set be truly extraordinary, those unfortunate enough to be seeking employment may as well have "personal assistant to Chuck Manson" on their resumes.
Although nobody went around bragging about playing host to these devilish little creatures, the idea of making a bed-bug-free history a prerequisite for employment, friendship, or even casual acquaintance would have seemed laughable to rural-born southerners of earlier generations. Had you imposed such a requirement, the circumference of your circle of association might have approximated that of the Atlanta chapter of the W. T. Sherman Fan Club.
To say the least, it's a might surprising to see all these sophisticated and supposedly intrepid NY'ers with their drawers in a knot over bedbugs. First of all, the evidence suggesting they might carry Hepatitis B or the plague isn't entirely conclusive. Likewise, it isn't as though New Yorkers haven't already been living in an environment awash with vermin. I've seen many a rat in Manhattan that could have easily intimidated our Doberman, and I have also bedded down in both hotels and private residences where the cockroaches were big enough to have their way with a good-sized turkey.
It's not just our insects that have the Yankees in a tizzy. They can't handle our weather either. I was in Connecticut this summer when the temps hit the high 80s, and I've never heard such pissing and moaning. There were also a couple of evenings when (GASP!) there were not only thunderstorm warnings but some tornado sightings. I've never seen anything like it. Instead of baseball, every TV in every bar I visited (Surely a large enough sample to virtually guarantee immunity to challenge.) was tuned to the Weather Channel.
The thing is, these folks ain't seen nothing yet! That's right, coming soon to a high-rise near you: Kudzu, "the vine that ate the South." As the accompanying map shows, this voracious consumer of junk cars, abandoned barns and houses, utility poles, and probably even an occasional slow-footed kid has found new terrain to conquer way up yonder above the Mason-Dixon line.
Strikingly, while balmier winters have beckoned kudzu northward, plant experts now contend that the spread of the world's most unrelenting vine is also contributing to global warming. If one follows this progression logically, it could mean that as higher temps make the northern climes more hospitable, parts of the South may actually become too warm for it. Frankly, I can't find much satisfaction in this prospect. I have always said I never wanted to live anywhere it was too cold for kudzu to grow, but Honey, even with all those generations of sweat-stained Georgia crackers dangling from my family tree, I ain't studying about taking up residence where it's too hot for it either.
Realizing that my eternal whereabouts might well turn out to be such a place, however, I'm suddenly feeling a strong moral obligation to assist our Yankee brethren as they struggle with the Dixiefication of their living environment. First, let me say that if keeping bedbugs away is your primary concern, don't waste time spraying yourself with anthing containing DEET. Male bedbugs use that stuff for aftershave. Dousing yourself with turpentine might work, but be careful to move around a lot, lest you attract a colony of pine beetles. Regrettably, I can't be as helpful with the kudzu invasion, where the question is no longer one of "if" but simply "when." All I can say is that since the Empire State building is in grave danger of turning into a giant phallic Chia pet, you Wall Streeters might be well-advised to secure a heavy position in goat futures.